Southern Star Ltd. logo

Bus Éireann: age limits on drivers will not be reduced

September 28th, 2023 10:05 PM

By Martin Claffey

Bus Éireann: age limits on drivers will not be reduced Image
Our letter writer says we need more buses.

Share this article

BUS ÉIREANN says it will not be bringing down its age limit for school bus drivers despite a call from independent TD Michael Collins to reduce the cut-off to alleviate transportation issues. 

Deputy Collins made the call as he said a bus driver shortage is affecting some school transportation services, despite the tickets having been paid for already.

 Deputy Collins said that private coach operators, who have contracts with the Department of Education and Bus Éireann, can employ drivers over the age of 70 to transport children to and from school matches or swimming lessons during the day, but restrictions are placed on their ability to manage school drop-offs or collections.

‘The immediate solution to this crisis is evident: the Department and Bus Éireann must permit qualified drivers over the age of 70 to continue operating school buses,’ said Deputy Collins. ‘This policy, which currently prohibits such drivers, is untenable, given the extraordinary circumstances arising from the authorities’ own inadequate planning.

 ‘Any driver over 70 should be allowed to fill the gap, provided they are medically fit to do so.’

However, in response, Bus Éireann issued a statement to The Southern Star which defended the existing 70 age limit, citing safety research on the issue.

‘Safety is a core value for Bus Éireann and is our first priority in all operations,’ the statement said. 

‘The retirement age for school bus drivers has been set by Bus Éireann at 70 years of age, which also applies to road passenger services. This was previously 66 but was reviewed and extended a number of years ago for school bus drivers and in 2022 for road passenger service drivers, subject to an initial assessment and then an annual medical review. 

‘This policy and criteria is applied to all drivers who provide school transport services on behalf of Bus Éireann and takes into account the scale of the operation and the responsibility of ensuring the safe transport of over 150,000 children on a daily basis.

‘While the safety of the children we carry is the overarching reason for our policy, there are other matters which inform our position in addition to the scale of the scheme. 

‘These include studies we have reviewed associated with driver age and risk and the wider context of the current national concern raised by the Road Safety Authority in relation to the road accident trend.  

‘For these additional reasons we have no plans to increase the age limit at this time.’

Bus Éireann has now issued school transport tickets to over 132,000 students travelling on mainstream services this school year, while a further 19,000 children with special educational needs are using the company’s services.

Tags used in this article

Share this article